8.18.2005

Our Side Of The Border

Mexico. Drugs. Blame. Scapegoating.

There is a great book that was reviewed on NPR called "Down By The River" or something. It outlined all the information related to the execution of a DEA agent by someone, we don't quite know whom. Econo-Girl gave the book away to some bonehead, a big mistake.

And basically, the book talked about how the U.S. Government did not really do anything about the killing. It also says the U.S. never mentions how the drugs get from the border to Chicago or New York. And while it is fun to blame others, there needs to be some accountability there on the part of the U.S. Government.

George Bush, a fool in most respects, hit the nail on the head when he brought up the issue of U.S. consumption being the driver of the entire problem. It's true. If no one here wanted cocaine or heroin it wouldn't be a multi-billion-dollar business.

As an aside, the U.S. dollar has long been the exclusive currency for drug dealing internationally, but it is being replaced by the Euro.

Personally, Econo-Girl thinks that efforts to arrest the small-time personal-use buyer would have the most impact. But people get really wrapped up in Mr. Big Dealer. Getting that asshole isn't going to stop anything. A real impact could be made on the DEMAND side of the equation by arresting regular people. When Joe Suburb hears that his neighbor down the street is going down for a ten-year stretch, he will think twice about his casual use. Of course, that would mean middle class people would be filling our prisons. So it will never happen. Wouldn't want to slam someone just like us, would we? Let's just blame the Mexicans and slap them all with the 'corrupt' label. It will make us all feel better.

Economics is at the heart of the drug war. Where are the illegal trafficking economists?

13 comments:

The Lazy Iguana said...

Drug addiction is a sickness, not a crime. You do not lock up people with cancer do you? How about people with an alcohol problem?

Going after the users is like going after Martha Stewart and letting the Enron guys walk away. Yea, both are violating the law - but not on the same scale.

This is why the drug war can not be won. Lock up the dealers, and the demand is still there. More dealers will fill in the gap. Taking away the supply would mean locking up people that have an addiction sickness (possibly millions of people).

And then there is the whole problem with the town I live in. Miami Florida. Miami makes nothing. There is no industry here. All we have are beaches, an airport, a seaport, and a whole bunch of very tall bank buildings. The downtown Miami skyline was built with steel, glass, and drug money.

Econo-Girl said...

Iggy, I hear what you are saying. I know that addiction is an illness because I am in AA myself, and my husband is in NA.

However, I also can't bring myself to OK the legalization of drugs. I just can't. Maybe it's because drugs were not my thing, booze was. I don't know.

The family damage is immense, but that is the case with alcohol also. Should we just cut out the thugs and make it legal? In fact, is there any arguement for the illegalization of drugs that doesn't also apply to alcohol? I can't think of one.

But I am still not at the place where I can promote the legalization of drugs.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I support the decriminalization of drugs. This is not exactly the same as legalizing. It is close, but it would not make the state the drug dealer.

Yes, family and personal damage is immense. But does locking someone up solve that? Drug and alcohol abuse are a result of environment. People who suffer from the addiction are not criminals.

There is no solution to drugs. Not jail, not legalization.

Here in Florida, gooberner Jeb Bush decided to be the anti-crime guy. He pushed in the 10-20-life law, and made the sentences for drug users longer. Then his daughter got busted with a stolen prescription pad and crack cocaine. She was going from pharmacy to pharmacy trying to get narcotics with the stolen scrips. Suddenly, mr. "lock up all crack heads" became mr. "rehab works". This is just one of many reasons that Jeb sucks. As long as only poor and mostly black people were getting popped with crack, jail was the solution and rehab was a waste of money. But then his child gets busted, and suddenly rehab works and her problem was a "private family issue", as opposed to a crime. But if her last name were not Bush, and she was in the inner city, and a few shades less white, the "private family problem" WOULD be a crime, and she WOULD have gone to jail.

One America, two systems. One for the kings and one for the peons.

If it were up to me to "solve" the problem, I would try something else. It is clear that the current version of the war on drugs is simply not working. I would un-lump the drugs currently illegal, and then consider on a case by case basis to decriminalize, legalize, or whatever.

And there would be one system. No kings and no peons.

And no. There is no argument that applies to drugs but not to alcohol. Except for the fact that SOME of the street drugs are very powerful, and super addictive. Many people can drink alcohol and not become addicts. Not many people can just smoke crack on the weekend, or when they are eating out somewhere. The danger drugs (crack, coke, meth, opiates, date rape drugs like roofies, etc) are the real problem.

But locking someone up because they have a joint? What is the point in that? Did a pot head ever rob a 7-11 for anything except a microwave burrito?

But what do do when drugs do cause violence? At that point, jail is justified. You have to draw the line somewhere. I draw that line at physical damage.

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Econo-Girl said...

I heard about a study that found that 30% of the people in state prison for violent crime were drunk at the time of the crime. It was on The PBS Newshour. The conclusion was that alcohol is America's violent drug, not heroin or crack.

rene the rugrat said...

"Where are the illegal trafficking economists?"

http://www.freakonomics.com/pdf/DrugGangFinances.pdf

not exactly, but close

lewis_medlock said...

...good topic for discussion.......
i have some thoughts on the matter, here goes...
Im with the iguana...un-lump drugs as they are now clasified.....Im a firefighter-paramedic in a medium sized city...never been to a car wreck where 'reefer' was the only component...yet that bottle of scotch has done in a lot of folks.
Drug war cant be won.....Id compartmentalize it and manage the more violent aspects of the drug culture....the folks making meth aint anice bunch. The guy smoking a little weed while he watches the SCi-Fi channel...a different matter.
PBS states that 30% of violent offenders were drunk at the time of their activities...Ok, Id agree with that...but its a pretty easy stat to throw out there and watch for the crowds reaction.....most violent offenders are male and young....throwing back the case of Busch is a LONG rite of passage throughout the 'hearland'.....
Not sure how or where Econo girl grew up..but there are whole swaths of the US where folks are perpetually drunk, angry and unhappy....not a far reach to figure that such folks might do mena things.
Funny....the typical snake bit victim (of the venomous variety...) in the US is male, young and drunk.........AND his encounter was initiated by the bitee, ie, he just had to pick it up and play with it in front of his buds.....
LM

The Lazy Iguana said...

Angry drunks are scary. I have known a few of them.

But for the most part, people who are angry drunks are also angry when sober. They are pretty much never happy, no matter what.

When they get drunk, it does not really change them. All it does is remove the restraint they usually carry around. They go from yelling at a person to physical contact.

So is alcohol a violent drug? Not really. When an angry drunk can not get any booze, they are still angry. They are not prone to robbing someone at gunpoint to get more beer.

A crack head on the other hand, WILL pick up a gun when they can not get more crack. Cocaine and meth can turn an otherwise non-violent person into a thug. I have not seen any evidence that alcohol does the same.

Econo-Girl said...

Wow, you guys are really informative. I'm so glad I wrote on this.

Iggy, good points. Can't refute them. I guess that's why I'm still confused on this one.

Lewis, I grew up in Appalachia, but moved out 2 decades ago to the inner city in Philly, then DC. I don't remember it being that way when I was young, but then it could have been and I might not have noticed it.

So what is the solution? I maintain that taking a strategy that limits profitability to thugs is the best. And I wish I could think of something beside legalization.

Econo-Girl said...

Rene the Rugrat - that link was great! So now Econo-Girl has the solution to the drug problem, get decent jobs for people in poor neighborhoods.

It is clear that the drug dealers on the street do some kind of cost-benefit analysis about whether it pays to be in the business, according to this paper. And it wouldn't be worth the risk if they could earn OK money elsewhere, say the drug dealers interviewed for the research paper. BTW - you've got to read the quotes these guys give the researchers. They talk to the eggheads like they are total idiots. It's funny.

lewis_medlock said...

econo girl.where did you grow up at...?
btw....google 'lewis medlock'....sorta funny and pertinent to appalachia.
SE Ohio is appalachia and its dead...farming and coal were its lifeblood and both are dying....folks there are a billion light years removed form iPods, economic viability and a sense of hope.
Iguana...correct re. mean drunks are usually mean people.

Econo-Girl said...

Lewis

Grew up in central Pennsylvania, where kids are born with six fingers. Yeah, six fingers. Ugh.